Article Courtesy of: Inman News
By: Bernice Ross


As the market shifts, it's important to make every penny count. That starts with getting the most out of your current tech budget

As we move into a market with fewer transactions and potentially falling prices, it’s more important than ever to zero in on what works and eliminate every unnecessary cost in your business. A great place to begin is by doing a tech audit that identifies where you’re wasting both time and money. Before discussing the steps in conducting a tech audit, there’s one key point to always keep in mind: your No. 1 goal is to get a face-to-face appointment. The 2021 NAR Profile of Buyers and Sellers showed that 82 percent of the sellers and 73 percent of the buyers only interviewed one agent — the one that they subsequently hired. 

Taking full advantage of the tech tools that work best for your business keeps you top-of-mind when that buyer or seller decides to transact. Whether you provide a property report, use an email newsletter, or post photos and videos on Instagram, YouTube, or TikTok, be sure to provide the user with a reason to give you their contact information. 

Here are the steps to conduct a tech audit for your business. 

Eliminate unnecessary apps from your mobile devices 

Begin your audit by reviewing all the apps on your mobile devices and deciding which category each app falls into:

• Essential to my business.
• Frequently used.
• Used occasionally.
• Haven’t used in the last year

Delete all apps you haven’t used in the last year. For example, I signed up for Clubhouse and stopped using it after 90 days. I also eliminated approximately 40 other apps I’m not using. 

I then arranged my essential and frequently used apps on the first page of my mobile devices so I can quickly locate what I use the most often. This approach increases your efficiency and saves valuable time. 

Cut costs by eliminating subscriptions and tech you may have forgotten about

Have you ever signed up for a company’s 30-day trial at no charge, provided them with a credit card, and then forgot to cancel the subscription? To spot subscriptions and software where you are being charged monthly or annually, go through each of your credit card statements for the last 12 months and look for numbers that end with 95 or 99 cents and/or $95.00 or $99.00. Pay special attention to anything that is on autopay. 

When you locate these, determine whether you’re using this service and if so, is it contributing to your bottom line? If not, cancel the service immediately. 

If the company refuses, contact your credit card company and explain the situation. In most cases, the credit card company will block any additional charges to your account. 

Identify technology your clients use and like 

Have you ever asked your clients which tech tools were the most and least useful? Examples to ask about include:

• 360-degree virtual tour technology
• Brochure box with QR code that captures the potential lead’s phone number
• Digital signing software
• Digital staging tools
• Drone photography
• Open house conversion software
• Tools that track how often a listing is viewed online
• Transaction tracking software
• YouTube, Instagram and other sites where you post videos and track pageviews

For those clients who aren’t tech savvy, face-to-face and telephone contact is an absolute must. In contrast, your technologically sophisticated clients will be excited to use the most advanced tech tools available. 
If your clients are not using or not responding to the tech tools you provide, you have two options. The first is to dump the tech tool entirely. The second is to search for a different provider that may be easier for your clients to use. 

Find great tech services at no cost

One of the biggest complaints the leadership of most major companies have about their agents is:

We spend millions of dollars a year providing our agents with tools and services to grow their businesses, and they don’t even bother to learn how to use them. 

If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to revisit the tech tools your brokerage provides. Taking advantage of these can save you money as well as providing your clients with better service. 

Many Boards of Realtors and MLSs also provide extremely useful services to their agents at no charge. 

For example, many MLSs provide language translation for all of their listings. The problem is that even if the agents know about the service, most never take the time to explain the tremendous benefit this provides to potential clients who don’t speak English as their first language.

The National Association of Realtors Real Property Reports (NARRPR.com) is another excellent resource that provides detailed property reports at no charge. These reports are especially helpful when you meet someone when you’re out prospecting, at a meeting or at an open house. The beauty of using this RPR reports is that you can provide them with the information they want instantaneously. 

What’s exceptional about this service is the RPR app. When you meet someone and they would like to know about their home, all you need is their email or their cell number. The app immediately sends them the reports. Best of all, it only takes about a minute and that lead costs zero to obtain. 

Determine if your CRM is the right fit for your business

For essential apps such as a CRM, deciding to stay with your current provider or switching to a new provider involves much more than cost. Changing CRMs can be a huge disruption to your business — but being stuck with a system that is not working for you is even more costly. 

Craig Grant interviewed most of the major CRM providers and the services they offer. If you’re ready to select a CRM or if you’re considering replacing your existing CRM, visit his site to evaluate which CRM(s) are best suited for how you conduct your business. 

Customize your tech offerings to fit individual clients 

The latest advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered tech now allow you to provide data specific to each individual homeowner. In addition to the RPR property reports for individual properties, here are three other AI-powered tools that will allow you to stand head and shoulders above the competition. Best of all, these property tech tools are available to you at no cost.  

Obtain customized property report from Attom Data

Homedisclosure.com provides a detailed property report that is available online or as an app. They provide local crime statistics specific to each address, nearby environmental hazards, plus the risk of various types of natural disasters. Offering this report on your website or in your digital marketing is a great way to motivate potential clients to contact you. 

Determine whether down payment assistance is available for a property

In December 2021, DownPaymentResource.com and Zillow partnered to post all the down payment assistance programs available for properties actively listed on Zillow. This is a tremendous resource for buyers who are struggling to come up with a down payment. 

To locate this information, search the property address on Zillow. Directly below “Request a tour” click on the arrow on the far right of the line that begins with the word “Overview.” 

That brings up the following box where you can click on down payment assistance. 

In this case, there were 11 programs available with up to $24,995 in potential down payment assistance. In a slowing market, buyers are the name of the game, and this is one of the most powerful tools to attract both first-time and repeat buyers.         

Obtain 5 years of pricing history at your fingertips for almost any home in the country

For the first time ever, you can quickly access three different Automated Valuation Models (AVMs) on Realtor.com from three different companies displayed in an interactive chart dating back five years to 2017. (Visit Realtor.com, search on “home value,” and then enter the address you want to search.) 

In terms of the three companies listed, CoreLogic relies primarily on MLS data. Consequently, their pricing may lag behind the other two AVMS by 60 days or more.

Collateral Analytics has 12 different AVMs customized to fit their clients including appraisers, banks, hedge funds, mortgage companies, and real estate brokerages.  

Quantarium is currently the most sophisticated AVM available because it not only evaluates the factors the other AVMs use, it also factors in up to 900 other interior factors as illustrated below: 

What’s great about these AI-powered tech tools is you can offer sellers a customized evaluation of their property value that goes far beyond a normal CMA. Moreover, you can use this tool on listing appointments to set more accurate prices, as well as when an appraisal comes in too low. 

Be willing to test new technologies, but avoid ‘shiny object syndrome’

When you eliminate the tech and the apps you’re not using, you have room to try new technologies. It’s important, however, to avoid “Shiny Object Syndrome” or getting sucked in by the claim “It’s only $29.95 per month.” 
Instead, determine if any agents you know are already using this tool, the ease of use, as well as whether their clients like using this technology. Give any new technology 90 days to see if it works for you and your clients. If not, drop it and go on to the next tech or app that may be a better fit for you. 

There’s no better time than right now to do a tech audit. Double down on what your clients like using and dump what isn’t working for your business.  

Bernice Ross, president and CEO of BrokerageUP and RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with more than 1,000 published articles. Learn about her broker/manager training programs designed for women, by women, at BrokerageUp.com and her new agent sales training at RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.

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